So, we're home and finally getting back to our "normal" life! We've emerged from the alien planet of jet lag, but I just can't shake the overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the last few weeks that were truly out of this world. There are only so many years in your life that you can truly abandon responsibility and take a trip like this one.
I'm excited to share with you guys some of the gazillion photos I took - seriously, I need to get a handle on camera restraint. Over the next little while I am going to split our trip up by destination and release a post on each (as I work through the images). I'll be sharing what we thought, some of what we saw and some of our favourite spots to shop and eat. Hope you enjoy!
The Greek island of Santorini is the most photogenic, incredibly beautiful little vacation bubble I've been to. The near constant golden light that illuminates the cave homes buried into the mountainside is a photographer's dream. With fresh fish from the ocean and the most amazing yogurt, honey, tzatziki and baklava you can imagine - the food doesn't disappoint either. We did feel a tad strange that Oia - the area of Santorini we stayed in, is basically built for tourists. Not a lot of people live here and most of the places you see in postcards are vacation rentals. All day long cruise ships unload tourists to explore for the day. The streets bustle with people getting a look at the place and it can get really congested along the main walkway. Once you know and accept all this stuff though, and take it for what it is, it really is a relaxing an beautiful spot. The raw beauty of the mountains, the ocean and the homes really is some thing you have to see in your lifetime.
We rented our place through AirBNB. Oia accommodations can be crazy expensive - we're talking thousands of dollars a night (we don't live in that world). Our little bungalow was a little on the pricier side for us - but the location was one we just couldn't pass up. The lofted bungalow had a deck that teetered on the edge of a cliff with a totally uninterrupted view of the ocean. We spent mornings eating thick greek yogurt with greek honey and drinking coffee just taking it all in. The beds each had windows that were entirely filled with blue which was insane to wake up to the first morning after about 48 hours of flights without sleep.
Six days in Oia was quite a bit of time and we both felt a little exploratory by about the second or third day. We rented a crazy, little, beat up smart car to drive around the island - so funny. The rental car company was out of automatics (and Tyler doesn't drive standard), so I am pretty sure they made us wait while they picked up the little reject car from an employee's house. The driving is pretty insane and the car just made it that much funnier. There were moments driving on the tops of cliffs with no railings where we both were just screaming and laughing out of nervousness as the jerky little vehicle made strange noises and bumped its way around the corners.
One of the nicest places we drove to was Kamari Beach. The black sand beaches are really beautiful and you can rent a chair and hang out in the sun for about $5. There are a bunch of little restaurants along the beach to grab saganki, calamari, greek salad and beer. We checked out a bunch of the beaches around the island. Some were less touristy and had some good cheap eats - schwarma, donair etc. but Kamari was definitely our favourite.
At the south end of Kamari you can do a super windy, switchback-filled drive up a mountain to visit ancient ruins. The drive is insane but the view is totally worth it. We were both in awe imagining people settling these places back in the day. The heat and the terrain make it pretty unbelievable that people came up these mountains on foot to build their homes.
We also drove to the Akrotiri lighthouse. We did this drive twice because it was so beautiful - once on a windy, overcast day, and once on a super sunny day. The cliffs turn your knees to jelly when it's really windy - which it often was during our trip. As a sidenote, Santorini's weather was super eclectic. It could be insanely hot and sunny in the morning and by the evening walls of wind and lightning storms would come and go in a matter of hours - then it was back to normal. We really loved being kept on our toes.
Around the corner from where we were staying was where people watched the sunset (in the photos above). From there you can do this long, winding walk down to the fishing town of Amoudi. You can see the freshly caught octopus hanging and then sit down at a restaurant and have it barbequed and brought to your table. From Amoudi you can walk (to the right and around the corner in the picture below) to an area when people swim, suntan and cliff jump. We could see the swim area from our place and I was dying to visit and swim.
The water was super clear, beautiful and cool - perfect for a hot day. The only thing I'd mention is keep your eyes out for the urchins, they're all around. They were easy to spot through the clear water once you knew they were there.
We got dolled up (in white naturally) for our last night to have dinner at a fancy restaurant during the sunset. A good tip is making reservations for sunset dinners is a must in Santorini - things get really booked up. Our favourite meal we had in Santorini (thought it didn't have a sunset view) was at Floga, recommended to us by a friend. It was amazing.
What an awesome island. It's so crazy looking back at the photos and remembering our time there. I'm definitely missing it already and dreaming of being back there.
Next travel post will be on Italy - check back!